A new ad released by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign celebrates the anger of LGBTQ+ Americans at his homophobic and transphobic policies. Perhaps more disturbing, it also attacks former President Donald Trump for promising to protect LGBTQ+ people from hate crimes and terror attacks.
The latest ad released through the DeSantis War Room account on Twitter opens with Trump’s 2016 speech at the Republican National Convention. There, Trump promised, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.”
While Trump’s comments sparked skepticism at the time, which was later confirmed by anti-trans policies in office, the context when he said them had been unmistakable. Months prior, a mass shooter killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in what remains the deadliest attack ever victimizing LGBTQ+ Americans. The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS, feeding sentiments the mass murder was both a hate crime and a terrorist attack.
DeSantis now serves as governor of Florida, and in June he recognized the anniversary by calling the shooting “a horrific act of terrorism against the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.”
But it was a slew of other actions by DeSantis that the latest ad chose to spotlight. That included signing a slate of laws viewed as attacks on Florida’s queer and transgender community.
It’s unclear if DeSantis’s campaign made the ad or simply shared it.
The ad, which oddly splices photos of Christian Bale's character Patrick Bateman from American Psycho in with those of DeSantis, relishes in criticism of DeSantis-backed laws. (Lesbian screenwriter Guinevere Jane Turner wrote the film.) Those laws include bathroom segregation bills, bans of trans health care for minors and coverage even for adults, and threats against businesses allowing minors into events featuring drag queens.
“I cannot think of anything more horrifying,” says MSNBC host Chris Hayes in the ad, right before a clip of DeSantis laughing in hysterics with voters. Similar upset commentary is packed into the spot.
But besides DeSantis basking in being criticized as anti-LGBTQ+, nearly half the ad is devoted to painting Trump as too tolerant.
“To wrap up ‘Pride Month,’ let’s hear from the politician who did more than any other Republican to celebrate it,” reads the DeSantis tweet captioning the advertisement.
The video shows conservative trans businesswoman Caitlyn Jenner and features an interview of Trump saying he would allow her to use the bathroom of her choosing at Trump Tower. It also reaches far back to an interview with the late Barbara Walters where Trump, then the owner of Miss Universe, promised trans women could compete in the international pageant.
And it grabs YouTube videos from another conservative trans activist, Lady MAGA, quoting Trump’s “Make America Great Again'' slogan.
It’s the early footage of Trump promising a safe America for trans people after the Pulse attack that generated pushback among many conservative media commentators.
“Why is Team DeSantis attacking Trump for… saying he will protect LGBTQ people from terrorism” tweeted Brad Polumbo, editor in chief of BASED Politics. “How is that…bad? And would DeSantis NOT protect LGBT people from terrorism as president?!?”
Polumbo, who is gay, tagged DeSantis and members of his campaign communications team. None have responded yet.
The ad, though, seems to relish media commentary that paints him as hateful and soulless.
“This governor does not care,” reads a pull quote in the ad.
That comes before another odd editing choice splicing a photo of Brad Pitt playing Achilles in Troy. Achilles’ story, of note, has been widely read as one of a gay warrior angered by the death of his lover Patroclus.